Thanks to Ion Tiriac, who, it would appear, will stop at nothing if it gets him publicity, we will be treated to the joys of blue clay next week at the Mutua Madrid Open.
Rafa has been out there practising.
This is what he said afterwards in an interview published in Marca. (Translation provided to vamosbrigade.com by malimeda)
"I practiced on it yesterday afternoon, but although I liked it and it looked great, my impression hasnít changed, because itís about the concept and the background of this tournament, not whether it looks nice or not.
"Madrid is for many reasons one of the best tournaments in the world and thereís no need to go beyond that by distinguishing itself with blue courts, itís already different by its altitude. I believe itís a mistake, not on the part of the organizers, because I understand their idea and I appreciate it, I also understand the promotion, but my disapproval is of the ATP, the ones that allow this to happen.
"The ATP should have never allowed a tournament as important as this to be played in the middle of 3 Masters 1000 on clay, already at an altitude and with courts like this and with this clay.
"Iím talking about whatís better for the tour and players, and thatís a better clay season with less problems. Iím being fair to the tournament, because itís one of the best in the world, because Madrid has been improving year after year making an effort to be one of the best in the world, and it has achieved that.
"This court has 2 and a half problems. The main problem for me is the advertising behind the players is low and furthermore it consists of LED lamps that are the same colour as the court. So you tend to lose sight of the ball when your opponent hits it at that height; itís a problem that I realised immediately. Something needs to be changed.
"Besides, the court is more slippery than usual, I donít know whether itís because it has less clay, because itís hard underneath or itís slippery due to the blue dye... Iím not an expert, but Iíve noticed that. At times the court gets soft, especially when serving, although thatís a less worrying problem, the first two certainly will be at the time you need to play long points."
(He considers the softness of the court as half of a problem, that "provokes bounces more irregular than usual". Source elmundo.es)
"Both the inconveniences and advantages are the same to all the players. For some the advantages are a bit bigger, players with a more powerful serve, or those who donít have such a distinct footwork. Players such as Isner and Raonic, or else Federer, this is a court that suits them very well, it favours or rewards the serve more than usual.
"The problem is not with Tiriac, nor with Gerard [Tsobanian, Tournament's Excutive Director], nor with anybody who has proposed this, the problem is with the one who has allowed this from inside the ATP, the former President. I understand the idea, I realize the commercial effect, but itís a completely different thing to allow that, itís more the problem of the ATP than of the tournament.
"Nowadays Iím outside of the ATP politics and the Playersí Council. I dedicate myself to playing tennis, thatís something I usually do less badly. Iím happy about the way the things go and how my season goes. Furthermore Iím very motivated to play at Madrid, the most complicated tournament on clay. I need to adapt as best I can to the altitude and the court, in order to compete with certainty of success."
We will see which of these Smurfs Rafa most resembles next week.
Smurf images ©Peyo from www.smurf.com - adapted by MAC
¡Buena suerte, Rafa!